PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. - Memorial Day was observed at the Presidio of Monterey in a May 27 ceremony with the participation of students of the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC) and its commandant.

"We commemorate Memorial Day to honor those service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country," said Air Force Chaplain (Maj.) Tim Rosenthal, who served as narrator for the event.

On behalf of DLIFLC Commandant Col. Danial D. Pick, host of the observance, Rosenthal welcomed service family members and friends and introduced members of the Presidio's senior leadership along with guests from the Presidio's neighboring communities. Attendees included Presidio Garrison Commander Col. Darcy Brewer, Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Olga Martinez, Seaside Mayor Ralph Rubio, Marina Mayor Bruce Delgado, Pacific Grove Mayor Carmelita Garcia and Monterey City Manager Fred Meurer.

Throughout the ceremony four contingents of students representing the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines faced the podium in formations that spanned the Price Fitness Center gymnasium. The DLIFLC Joint Service Color Guard, representing the unity of the military services, stood in front the formations. The indoor location was a necessary change of venue from the Presidio's Soldier Field because of rainy weather.

Rosenthal told the assembly that Memorial Day, once known as Decoration Day, was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. After World War I it was changed to a day of remembrance for all Americans who died fighting in any war. In 1971 Congress declared the last Monday in May as the federal Memorial Day holiday.

In an address to the assembly, Pick said Memorial Day 2010 has special meaning to service members and their families because the United States is at war.

"Thousands have given their lives in the past decade fighting in obscure locations," Pick said. "These fallen were our sons and daughters, wives and husbands, friends and comrades in arms. They were the most recent Americans in a long line of patriots to have answered their country's call and, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, to have given their 'last full measure of devotion.'"

A moment of silence was requested for two DLIFLC graduates after DLIFLC Sgt. Maj. Tracey Bellotte repeatedly called their names but received no answer in a symbolic roll call. Army Master Sgt. Anthony Davis, a 1991 graduate of the German Basic Course, died Nov. 25, 2008, at age 43 from a hostile incident in Baaj, Iraq. Marine Corps 1st Lt. Jason Mann, a 2000 graduate of the Arabic Basic Course, died July 17, 2008, at age 29 from an incident in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

"Although they are not physically present, their spirit remains with us," Rosenthal said.

DLIFLC's Navy Choir contributed to the ceremony with a softly sung rendition of "America the Beautiful."

Taps were sounded and three rifle salute volleys were fired.

Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Jose Rodriguez conducted an invocation and benediction.

Page last updated Fri May 28th, 2010 at 18:14